Even as he went to the polls this morning to cast his ballot, Donald Trump still won't commit to accepting the results of the 2016 presidential election. In two separate interviews on Florida talk radio Tuesday morning, Trump repeated his claim from the final debate suggesting that he would "keep [us] in suspense" as to whether he would peacefully concede the election to Hillary Clinton if he doesn't win.
Trump has made his claim that the election is "rigged" a central component of his campaign, and addressed what he'll do about the supposed rigged system on Florida's "AM Tampa Bay" morning show on 970 WFLA Tuesday.
Asked if he will contest the results of today's election if the numbers are "really close," Trump left the possibility wide open, according to CNN.
"Well if I think there's something that was wrong," Trump said, he's prepared to challenge the results. In typical Trump style, the candidate then took the conversation sideways, suggesting that when he was running in 2008, President Barack Obama "basically" claimed the elections in Chicago were rigged. While Trump has been repeating that line since at least the middle of October, in reality, a 2008 video of then-candidate Obama shows him saying that both parties have historically worked to "tilt" the election in their favor, and that the Department of Justice should create a nonpartisan Voting Rights Division to protect citizens' universal right to vote.
Trump went on to suggest that voter fraud was "legendary" in cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, and St. Louis, Missouri — all of which happen to have dense populations of African-American voters.
"So no, if I think everything's on the up and up, that's a lot different," he told the radio host. "And we can only see what happens, I hope it's going to be very fair, I think we're going to do very well."
That's when the host referenced a deceptively edited Fox News story falsely claiming that Obama instructed undocumented immigrants to vote in the general election, telling them there would be "no repercussions." (Obama's full comments, in context, discussed voting as a privilege of citizenship.)
"That's like giving a green light to the illegals to vote," the host said, using an adjective as a noun to describe undocumented immigrants that has been denounced by responsible journalistic outlets like the Associated Press.
Claiming that he saw that story "yesterday on one of the networks," Trump called the edited clip of a Nov. 4 interview Obama gave to millennial Latino outlet Mitú "amazing."
"He basically said that illegals can vote," Trump said, inaccurately. "I mean, he was saying illegals can vote. And he actually said 'go and vote and exercise your rights.' I mean the whole thing is crazy, what's happening."
By misrepresenting President Obama's interview with a Latino outlet, and subsequently claiming the president told "illegals" to vote, Trump's xenophobic rhetoric has come full-circle. The billionaire businessman started his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants "rapists" who are "bringing drugs" and "bringing crime" into the U.S.
And now, it appears, he's ending his campaign by suggesting "illegals" are the true cause behind the election results Trump believes are categorically "rigged." Unless he wins, of course — then everything is above-board.
Trump repeated his high expectations for his White House bid in a subsequent interview on Florida's Newsradio 610 WTVN Tuesday morning.
"I want to see what happens, you know, how it goes as per our previous little chat," Trump told the host. "You know, you want to see. You hear so many horrible stories and you see so many things that are wrong. So we'll take a look. Certainly I love this country and I believe in the system, you understand that."
But Trump's rhetoric has, for weeks, suggested that he has zero confidence in the American electoral process. At a rally on Oct. 20, one day after he first promised to keep Americans "in suspense" about the peaceful transfer of power, Trump said he would readily accept the results of the election — as long as he wins.
When Trump first made the unprecedented claim during the third and final presidential debate, Clinton called it "horrifying," and politicians and pundits from across the ideological spectrum condemned his remarks. If Trump loses, and refuses to accept the results of the election, it would mark the first time in the nation's more than two centuries of existence that the transfer of power from one democratically elected president to the next was not done peacefully.
Which is all the more reason to make sure there's no chance the election results are close. Because maybe, if Trump gets trounced in today's election, he will actually follow through on a promise he made on Nov. 6 in Maryland.
"I don't think I'm going to lose, but if I do, I don't think you're ever going to see me again, folks," Trump told the crowd, according to Business Insider. "I think I'll go to Turnberry and play golf or something."
We can only hope. And vote.